Driving an automobile allows seniors in Michigan to maintain their independence. But as we age, our ability to operate a car safely declines. According to AAA, 90 percent of adults over 65 have health conditions that impair driving. In addition, age-related issues like loss of flexibility, diminished vision and reduced reaction time increase an older adult’s ability to drive safely.
Just a few years ago, this meant that seniors might have had to give up the keys. But automakers have developed high-tech safety features that allow older adults to stay safe behind the wheel longer.
These features include parking aids, backup cameras and reverse-sensing systems that can alert drivers to autos and objects in the driver’s blind-spots. Some cars are even equipped to automatically apply the brakes when a pedestrian or obstacle is in the path. Adjustable safety belts, pedals and seats can also improve visibility, reaction time and comfort.
Matching Senior Drivers with the Car Safety Features They Need
AAA Automaker software can help adults over 65 choose a car tailored to their physical limitations and health needs. This useful tool can help you and your senior loved one select automobile features that can help overcome some of the physical changes caused by aging.
Six-way adjustable seats. This can make is easier to get in and out of a car, as well as reduce hip and leg pain associated with rising and sitting. Seats with multiple positions, height adjustment and back support can help older adults feel more comfortable and confident behind the wheel.
Keyless entry and ignition. This is a must for seniors with arthritis. A push-button system eliminates the need for turning keys and fumbling around trying to push small buttons on a remote key chain.
Thick steering wheels. These are kinder on older hands because they reduce the need for a full grip on the steering wheel.
High-contrast, large print gauges. An easy-to-read instrument panel can help seniors with vision issues monitor their speed and vehicle issues.
Best Vehicles for Senior Drivers
Some cars are more senior-friendly than others. Consumer Reports rates new and used cars for older adults based on a variety of features ranging from seat adjustment to steering wheel comfort. Here are their recommendations for older driver safety:
2014 Chevrolet Impala
2011-2014 Chrysler 300
2008-2014 Honda Accord
2011-2014 Honda Odyssey
2014 Kia Soul
2004-2015 Lexus RX
2009-2015 Subaru Forester
2005-2012 Toyota Avalon
2007-2014.5 Toyota Camry
2004-2014 Toyota Highlander
For more information about older adult driving safety, visit the Michigan Guide for Aging Drivers and Their Families.